Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Nuts is the great lost kid strip. I'd place it with Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes, although its mood is different from both of those. Its protagonist (who I believe was never named) is neither a tortured Everyman like Charlie Brown or an irrepressibly imaginative troublemaker like Calvin. He's just a regular kid experiencing the world around him, who's beginning to understand just how complicated that world is. Nuts was written and drawn by Gahan Wilson, but that's misleading: his writing here is far removed from the single-panel cartoons that Wilson is famous for, although the art is in the same style. Nuts is seldom morbid, though sometimes mordant; and Wilson has a keen sense of realism about childhood, as well as a good memory for what childhood actually feels like.

As far as I know, only one collection of Nuts ever appeared, and that's long out of print and treasured by those fortunate enough to own it. And I had no expectation of the strip ever returning to print. But in May's Previews Fantagraphics announced The Complete Nuts, which adds over two dozen strips not in the earlier volume. (It's also available for pre-order from Amazon.) This is the most excited I've been about any classic strip reprint in a long time.

(If you're wondering why you've never heard of Nuts, it's because it never appeared in newspapers. It appeared monthly in the National Lampoon, but that's even more misleading.)

(Incidentally, speaking of Amazon and Gahan Wilson, Amazon is currently selling Fantagraphics' three-volume set of Wilson's Playboy cartoons for nearly half off, though that's still over sixty bucks.)

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